When the first deadline passed last week, the Buffalo Bills had only three known bidders.
That number has grown.
Several sources informed The Buffalo News on Thursday the Bills’ trust has scheduled face-to-face meetings with at least five and as many as eight prospective buyers for the National Football League team over the next couple of weeks.
In addition to the three previously confirmed bidders, The News has learned former Buffalo Sabres owner Tom Golisano finally submitted a bid, while Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly has aligned with an unknown bidder and met with the trust Thursday.
The News previously reported Jeffrey Gundlach, the bond investor from East Amherst, had approached Kelly about joining forces.
Gundlach is CEO of DoubleLine Capital, a Los Angeles-based firm that oversees about $50 billion in assets. Gundlach told the Wall Street Journal in 2011 he was interested in buying the Bills to ensure they remain in Western New York.
Although initial bids were supposedly due July 29, the deadline was extended. Golisano and others stepped forward – privately – with interest in the team.
The trust was said to be concerned that only three bids had come in by the deadline.
“The family is still seeking the most money, so they’re still bringing people to the table,” a source said of Morgan Stanley, the bank that is representing the trust that’s selling the team following Ralph C. Wilson Jr.’s death in March.
NFL sources informed The News that presentations took place with billionaire developer Donald Trump on Wednesday and Kelly on Thursday in the Detroit area, where Ralph Wilson Enterprises is located.
The sources said four meetings are scheduled next week in Manhattan, and perhaps one or two more are possible the week after.
Sabres owner Terry Pegula and his wife, Kim, will meet with the Bills’ trust next week. The Toronto-based group fronted by rock star Jon Bon Jovi is believed to be having its visit next week, too.
The order of the meetings and identities of the others involved have not been confirmed.
One potential suitor is food-and-beverage magnate Dean Metropoulos, owner of Pabst Brewing Co. Metropoulos had expressed interest in checking out the Bills.
Bills CFO Jeffrey Littmann and Bills President Russ Brandon are involved in the presentations, providing additional details and financial information previously not released to prospective buyers.
As the sale continues to advance swiftly, a new Bills owner could be approved by NFL owners at the league’s meeting Oct. 7 and 8 in Manhattan.
News Albany Bureau reporter Tom Precious contributed to this report. email: email@example.com